You hear about the core all the time – but what is it actually?
The core, originally called the “powerhouse” by Joseph Pilates, is a group of deep muscles connecting the lower frame of the body, the pelvis, with the upper frame, the rib-cage. Together they support the spine.
The deepest and most important muscle is the transversus abdominus (‘trans’ – across and ‘versus’ – to turn). It originates on the inside of the spinal cord between the pelvis and rib-cage, encircling your organs like a girdle. In front, it stretches from the sternum (breast bone) down to the pubic bone. Imagine a huge superman (or superwoman) belt. The job of the transversus muscle is to stabilize your pelvis.
This is the key muscle you want to identify and learn to use.
Three other stomach muscles are layered on top; the two sets of obliques, or ‘angle’ muscles and the rectus or ’six pack’ muscles. These muscles weave into the transversus. So, when you learn to properly use the transversus, all four muscles work together to 4x your core strength.
These core muscles support your back and give you power to move your body through space. You see this demonstrated beautifully with an Olympic gymnast, aerialist or dancer. However, anyone who wants to move their body through space, i.e. walk, crawl, run, etc. will improve strength and posture by using this muscle. And, as a bonus, it will flatten your tummy.
So, how do you find the transversus abdominus?
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.
- Breathe into your back through your nose and then slowly exhale out our mouth allowing the stomach to ‘sink’ towards your spine as if to lightly kiss it.
- Now engage your pelvic floor muscles by gently lifting them up as if you are trying to stop yourself from peeing.
- Feel the ‘wrap’ of the muscles deep around your waist. That wrapping sensation around your waist is your transversus muscle tightening.
- Drill finding and engaging this muscle while laying on your back, sitting, walking or doing any exercise. Know and use this muscle. This is your first step towards your powerful core – your powerhouse.
Over to you.